Nearly half of parents say the recession has them talking with their kids about money, according to a nationwide survey by T. Rowe Price's Financial Planning Services Group. But most still wish they were preparing their children more, and for good reason: If you make kids money-smart now, they'll be fiscally responsible for a lifetime. Here's how to get started.
By Celia Shatzman
Teens love to shop, their parents want them to spend less, and Leslie Muckleroy can teach everyone how to do both. The former BeCentsAble.net educator and founder of MenuMakerMom.com visits home economics classes in the San Antonio, Texas, area to share her savvy strategies with high school students. "Teens want to save on makeup, clothes, fast food, and entertainment," Muckleroy says. "But they are also extremely brand-loyal and label-conscious. Helping them set up a budget and savings plan just takes a little extra communication." Muckleroy shares some of her favorite tips for helping teens be fashionably frugal.
-- Go to the Web. The easiest way to save at the mall is to sign up for e-mail newsletters. All the popular mall stores, like Aeropostale, Hollister, and American Eagle Outfitters, send out coupons, special deals, and sale notifications. Tell your kids about the great bargains on sites like Alice.com, Coupons.com, BeCentsAble.net, CouponSherpa.com, and eDeals.com, where they can look for savings on their favorite stuff, including makeup, toiletries, snacks, and fast food.
-- Shop sales. It may be obvious to you, but not necessarily to your kids. When Muckleroy takes her 13-year-old twin daughters to the mall, they know to head straight to the back of the store, where the discount area is typically located. Her kids are also more likely to search out bargains when she sets a clear dollar limit. "Some sale items go for a fraction of the cost of the newer clothes, so when her girls have only $20 to spend, they're going to get a few $5 polo shirts instead of a full-priced tee for $15," Muckleroy says. "Your teens will learn that they can get more if they buy on sale."
-- Give a gift card. When you're the one paying and your teen is shopping with friends, hand over a gift card instead of a credit card. That way she has no choice but to stick to the budget.